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The Kiss Quotient: 07/21/18
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is a contemporary romance set in the Bay Area and is at surface level a gender swapped Pretty Woman but it's so much more. Stella Lane is an econometrician; she analyzes user data to predict future purchases. She's also autistic.
Stella would probably have continued with her daily routine had her parents not pointed out that she was thirty and they were starting to hope for grandchildren. Stella, though, hasn't enjoyed sex. From how her reaction to it, she seems asexual, but she's not adverse to the idea of being a mother.
This novel could have gone in any number of directions. It could have been yet another meddling parents trying to force their daughter to date until she somehow either finds someone she likes on her own or manages to like one of her blind dates. Or it could have been that she skips the dating scene and goes for IVF or adoption. Instead, Stella takes the direct route. She hires an escort to teach her how to like sex.
The Kiss Quotient alternates between Stella's point of view and Michael's (the escort). Often I'm inclined to skip the alternate point of view to stick with the first person's point of view (in this case, Stella's). But Hoang's characters are alive on the page and Michael in his first paragraph had me enthralled with his part of the story.
While this book is a romance with sex and a delightful lack of euphemisms, it's also about consent and respect. Michael is outraged at the treatment Stella has had by other men. He's not jealous — he's genuinely concerned for her. Besides the actual sex and foreplay there's tons of cuddling and just basic coupling that a lot of romances I've read seem to skip over.
One of my favorite early scenes is Stella's first encounter with Michael. They're at a swanky hotel and after all sorts of baby steps the eventually settle on cuddling. Stella's getting genuinely interested — something that's never happened to her before — and then suddenly it's the next morning. She fell asleep while cuddling. It's silly and real. I can't tell you how many times a good back rub has resulted in me falling asleep before getting around to having sex.
I could on about how great this book is but I don't want to spoil it. Go get a copy and enjoy a weekend curled up on the couch reading it.